- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspaper:


Sept. 9

Lexington Herald-Leader on Fayette County’s needle-exchange program:

Fayette County’s needle exchange program began Friday when, for 2 1/2 hours, drug users could go to the health department and exchange dirty, dangerous needles for clean ones.

There was no big fanfare, no ribbon cutting, to mark this important step in our community because anonymity is important for those bringing in needles.

But this is an important step.

Needle exchanges limit the spread of disease from sharing dirty needles. The startling rise in the incidence of hepatitis C in Kentucky - which now leads the nation in per capita cases - is directly related to drug use. HIV, the AIDS virus, is also often spread through drug use and is on the rise.

The simple and relatively inexpensive act of exchanging clean needles for dirty is an important step in battling the spread of these deadly and expensive diseases.

A recently released study of the impact of the city-funded needle exchange program in Washington, D.C., found that in its first 24 months it likely prevented 120 cases of HIV. Researchers calculated the cost of treating HIV in 120 people over their lifetimes would be $44 million.

The program at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, like most across the nation, also will offer free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, educational materials, and referrals and counseling for those who test positive for HIV, want drug treatment or need other health and social services.

This became possible as a result of the heroin legislation passed this spring by the General Assembly, which included a provision allowing local health departments to operate exchange programs. In addition to the benefits to drug users and potential public health savings, needle exchange programs benefit the entire community by disposing safely of dirty needles.

Those needles, left as litter on playgrounds, roadsides and elsewhere can infect anyone. Police and other first responders also are at risk when they come into contact with people who might have dirty needles.




Sept. 3

The Kentucky New Era on state auditor’s investigations:

The mayor of a southcentral Kentucky town that was the target of a state auditor’s investigation wants to sue the agency and perhaps undermine its ability to examine a city’s fiscal accountability. Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler contends Auditor Adam Edelen’s office overstepped its authority. We disagree with Girdler because we recognize the value of the auditor’s office as a watchdog for accountability and transparency.

Edelen’s predecessor, Crit Luallen, who is now Kentucky’s lieutenant governor, described this role for the auditor’s office at the end of her second term in 2011.

“I wanted to use this office in a way that went after some of Kentucky’s historic challenges,” Luallen said in an interview with Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen. “I saw public corruption as one of those.”

Under Kentucky law, the state auditor’s office has certain duties that it must perform and others that it may perform. An annual audit of county offices is required. But many state auditors have also exercised responsible leeway to examine city offices and quasi-government agencies that spend public money.

Despite the Somerset mayor’s argument, which leans toward restricting the ability of the state auditor to examine how tax dollars are being spent, there are numerous examples of special investigations that uncovered fiscal or management practices that were sloppy, questionable or downright criminal.

One example, which local officials requested, was a state auditor’s examination of Christian County Jail records after officials became suspicious of a bookkeeper - who was later convicted of theft.

Other investigations included Luallen’s 2009 probe of Blue Grass Airport, where $500,000 in questionable expenses were uncovered, resulting in criminal charges against four employees. More recently, Edelen has reviewed the number of untested rape kits and made a plea for more federal money to deal with the Kentucky State Police lab backlog. This summer Edelen announced his office was starting an audit to look at the governance and oversight of the University of Louisville Foundation, which oversees a $1.1 billion endowment.

Following the Somerset audit, Edelen said, “… our examination found the city generally ignored city policies and ordinances - if they existed at all - and made spending and management decisions without proper oversight or accountability. The draft paints a disturbing picture of a city management that willfully ignores ordinances and policies, skirts oversight and accountability and conducts the business of taxpayers as a few people at the top see fit. What’s worse, we heard over and over again from city employees that they were afraid to share information with us because they would be retaliated against.”

This doesn’t sound like the kind of audit that needs to be quashed. The Somerset mayor has shown he is on the wrong side of accountability.




Sept. 4

Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News on the Black Lives Matter movement:

For some time now, our country has heard the continuous chant that Black Lives Matter.

Of course they do. Nobody should ever dispute that.

But we would contend that all lives matter, whether they be black, white or any other nationality or ethnic group.

The Black Lives Matter movement took the national stage shortly after an 18-year-old black man was killed by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. Based on forensic and eyewitness evidence, a grand jury decided Wilson acted in self-defense when he shot Brown and did not return an indictment.

Unfortunately, before and after the grand jury’s decision, the city was looted, law enforcement officers had rocks and bottles thrown at them and the city saw many buildings burned to the ground by lawless anarchists, many of whom were bused in from other states to cause chaos.

President Barack Obama was outspoken on Ferguson and gave somewhat of an indictment of law enforcement, not only in Ferguson, but across the country when it came to police officers’ treatment of minorities, including in April in Baltimore when it pertained to the death of Freddie Gray.

We believe Obama should have stayed out of this issue and instead focused on the hundreds of black-on-black murders in inner-city Chicago every year. Or address the high black-on-black murder rates in Baltimore, Detroit, Oakland, Calif., Cleveland and other major cities across this country.

As commander in chief, Obama has an obligation to look out for his country to the best of his ability. In taking that oath, one of Obama’s duties as president is to look out for all Americans, not just one segment of the population.

Obama should not be picking and choosing killings that fit his political agenda. Since he did choose to jump into the picking-and-choosing arena, why doesn’t our commander in chief come out and simply say this rhetoric is not productive, it’s causing unnecessary division and that every single life in this country matters?

We’re waiting, Mr. President.

On Aug. 28, in Harris County, Texas, Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth was ambushed from behind while filling up his patrol car. Goforth, who was white, was shot execution-style in the head, and the alleged shooter, Shannon Miles, was charged with capital murder. Miles, who is black, unloaded his 15-round pistol into Goforth’s body after the initial shot.

We will give Obama credit for calling Goforth’s widow, Kathleen, that evening and sending his and the first lady’s condolences. That is what a leader of all the people does.

We believe Obama when he says that the targeting of police officers is “totally unacceptable.”

Authorities in Texas say they suspect the motive may have been that Goforth was in police uniform. This marks the fourth police officer murdered in 10 days. In 2014, 15 officers were killed in ambush attacks.

One could argue that some of these law enforcement officers may have been targeted because of the anti-police rhetoric that has been put out by certain people and groups.

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman put it best.

“The rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too.”

Hickman is spot on.

The majority of police officers are our friends, not our foes. Obviously, the Black Lives Matter movement is entitled to its opinion under the First Amendment when they chant “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ‘em like bacon,” as they did last weekend in Minnesota.

But people like this are simply adding fuel to an ongoing fire.

At the end of the day, we as a diverse country don’t need slogans that imply some lives matter more than others.

We should and need to say, “All Lives Matter.”



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